Nightmare fuel is kind of my buzzword for Halloween….used in the best possible way of course. Last year, when I reviewed the first book in the series of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, I wrote about the nightmarish tales therein and Stephen Gammell’s tremendously monstrous artwork.
The sequel is without a doubt in the same boat as the first book—sometimes the stories and images are even darker than the previous offering.
Today, we are going to look at More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and discuss one of my favorite stories from the collection.
About the book
More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark came out on October 31st, 1984. The stories were again penned by Alvin Schwartz and the nightmarish imagery was conjured by artist Stephen Gammell. The book features a litany of terrifying tales, from confused ghosts to undead sailors rising from their watery graves.
It’s actually an eclectic mixture of stories, and some of these 28 stories include:
- Something was Wrong
- The Wreck
- One Sunday Morning
- A Weird Blue Light
- Somebody Fell from Aloft
- The Little Black Dog
- The Bride
My favorite story from the collection
In my opinion, many of the best stories come from the section titled, “When I Wake Up, Everything Will Be Alright.” In this section, we find stories like “The Man in the Middle,” “The Cat in the Shopping Bag,” and, “The Bed by the Window.” Each of these is a macabre look into the tastes of Alvin Schwartz and of the often strangeness of the stories themselves.
“The Bed by the Window,” for instance, is a story I think about often, because it’s a sad look at jealousy and envy in the face of death.
The story describes the characters of George Best and Richard Greene, who are bedridden and share a room at a nursing home. After the third man in the room, Ted Conklin, dies, the remaining two men are shifted over one spot, winning George Best the prized bed by the window. There, he regales Richard with all sorts of descriptions of the outside world, but soon Richard becomes jealous. Murderously jealous.
“George had a bad heart. If he had an attack during the night and nurse could not get to him right away, he had pills he could take … All Richard had to do was knock the bottle to the floor where George could not reach it.”
(Alvin Schwartz | More Scary Stories)
Of course, this wouldn’t be More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark if somebody didn’t die, so Richard willfully murders George, He of course gets the bed by the window only to discover that “the window” was really just a “brick wall” and George had been describing things from his imagination to be kind to Richard.
It is a grim ending, and it is a dark story, but I’ve thought about it since I first read it when I was a kid and that tells me that regardless of its dark tone—it strikes a chord with me somewhere in the depths of my soul.